Bristol Jewish spokesman: It's time to stop "Yid" chants
Peter Brill is a member of the Bristol Progressive Jewish Community and former chairman of Salaam Shalon
IT is all pretty innocuous, this name-calling stuff. Fans of Bristol Rovers are quite happy to chant proudly about "The Gas", and Bristol City sing nice tunes about Robins. So why is there such a fuss about nicknames for other teams?
If you are not a football fan, let me offer some context. There has been an increasingly vocal campaign to kick racism out of sport generally, and football in particular. Yet controversies seem to appear daily, demonstrating that a minority playing and watching the game still do not seem to get the message.
One issue has created considerable debate within Bristol's Jewish community, whether football fans or not – the chanting of the word "Yid" by, and to, Tottenham Hotspur supporters. To be clear, "Yid" is a derogatory term for a Jewish person, although it is derived from Yiddish – a kind of mixed-up version of Russian, German and Hebrew – for Jew which is spelt the same way but pronounced Yeed.
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So why is this a football and community issue? Well, Tottenham supporters have claimed the right to call themselves "The Yids" as a badge of honour and recognition. This is based, completely incorrectly, on the premise that the majority of fans are, or were, Jewish. This is not now, nor has it ever been, fact.
Spurs have a traditional following from North London. Given that much of the area around White Hart Lane was once home to a large Jewish community, the mistake is understandable. But Tottenham fans are demanding the right to continue to chant the name, despite laws against racist abuse. Even the Prime Minister implied that it is OK for this kind of chant as long as it is not "motivated by hate".
That is interesting because I am sure the response would be entirely different if Bristol City were to recruit a majority black team and the majority white fans felt they could call themselves "The Niggers", or Bristol Rovers renamed themselves "The Spics" if there was a sudden increase in the local Italian community and it was all just a bit of fun. According to the law of Cameron, this is acceptable because it is not motivated by hate. It is pretty shocking to see it in print.
Thus "Yid Army" is, apparently, OK because it is a "term of endearment". Try that on Bristol's Jewish community because, despite the views of our glorious leader and a few thousand Tottenham fans, it is racist and not OK with us.